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Building a Greener Future Today

COVID-19 and travel at SEA Airport More Information

April 21, 2020

One of the biggest challenges at the Port of Seattle is how to mitigate the impacts of climate change and provide the necessary transportation and infrastructure to support our growing and thriving region. It’s something we think about every day, but particularly on this 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.  The Port’s goal is to be the greenest and most energy-efficient airport and seaport in North America. And we’re doing more than talking about it—we have been executing green building practices across Port facilities for many years to lessen the impact on the environment while meeting the social and economic needs of the region. 

Holistic building for sustainable solutions

“Green building” is more than just sustainable construction—it’s a holistic concept that looks at ways the built environment impacts the natural environment, including the everyday users who inhabit the building. The U.S. Green Building Council defines green building as the planning, design, construction, and operations of buildings with consideration towards energy and water use, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, and the building’s effect on its site. These considerations form the major categories for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system.

Recognized worldwide as the standard for design, construction, and operation of high-performance green buildings, the LEED rating system serves as a decision-making framework for projects. Once you’ve selected the LEED rating system based on the type of building and space you are developing, projects must then meet required green building strategies that give them points towards their certification. Projects are certified when they meet prerequisites and earn enough credits to achieve one of four LEED rating levels:

  • Certified (40-49 points)
  • Silver (50-59 points)
  • Gold (60-79 points)
  • Platinum (80 and more points)

Green criteria at SEA Airport

The Port prioritizes reducing the environmental impacts of buildings and infrastructure. New construction, additions, and major and minor renovations that modify mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems at the airport must seek LEED Silver certification, while tenant improvements are encouraged to seek LEED certification. Most recently, the Concourse D Annex project was completed in 2018 and awarded a LEED v4 Silver certification.

Interior shot of the completed concourse D annex certified LEED v4 silver
SEA Airport's Concourse D Annex was certified LEED v4 Silver in 2019.

Projects like the Concourse D Annex leveraged technology such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) to define the form and space of the facility to verify costs and energy performance. Sustainable highlights of this new facility include a rainwater management system that recycles roof runoff to water native landscaping, a reflective roof that reduces roof temperatures and lowers energy demand, and the use of locally-sourced materials. The project received 54 points out of a possible 110 points using the LEED v4 Building Design and Construction (BD+C): New Construction rating system. 

Snapshot of the LEED scorecard for SEA Airport's Concourse D Annex, certified LEED v4 Silver
This scorecard provides additional details on the criteria used by LEED evaluators. 

The North Satellite Modernization project and International Arrivals Facility at SEA Airport are both underway and seeking LEED v4 Silver certification. 

The North Satellite will feature several water and energy reduction measures: 

  • A system capturing rainwater from the roof to supply restrooms in the facility is estimated to save 750,000 gallons of water per year— the water savings equivalent of 500,000 flushes per year.
  • The facility will also use energy-efficient LED lighting and heating and cooling methods to save approximately 1.7 million kWh annually, which is equal to the annual energy use of 170 homes. 

Exterior shot of the completed Phase 1 North Satellite facility
While Phase 2 of the North Satellite is currently under construction, Phase 1 was completed and opened for operation in 2019.

The International Arrivals Facility will include several indoor environmental quality and materials measures:

  • Low-emitting adhesives, paints, coatings, furniture, ceilings, and walls are being used to complete the interior finishing to improve indoor air and environmental quality for travelers and staff who work in and pass through the facility.
  • The program is also continuing to divert 90% of construction waste from landfills by recovering, reusing, and recycling materials. 

Green building at other Port facilities

Green building isn’t limited to just LEED projects. The Port has completed many energy efficiency initiatives that help reduce our footprint and lower emissions and costs across our facilities. 

Pier 69, the Port’s headquarters building, is ENERGY STAR-certified for its energy conservation program that has reduced electrical usage by 50%, equivalent to more than 2.38 million kWh hours of annual savings and $160,000 in cost savings a year. 

The Port completed the installation of two solar arrays — a pilot project on a net shed at Fishermen’s Terminal and most recently the rooftop of Pier 69. These projects demonstrate the Port’s commitment to developing renewable energy sources and another step towards achieving its Century Agenda goal to meet all increased energy needs through conservation and renewable sources. The Pier 69 Solar Project was designed to generate approximately 120,000 kWh annually, which will offset greenhouse gas emissions by about 2.0 to 2.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide. It is projected to save $10,000 in energy costs per year. 

Renewable electricity generated from P69 solar array (as of 04/01/2020)
The Pier 69 Solar Project's renewable energy generation (measured in kWh) by month as of April 1, 2020.​​​

Growth and change in our region puts more pressure on the environment. The Port commits to our role as environmental stewards. We embrace our responsibility to the community, to the livability of this region, and to the future by taking action now to reduce the impact of development and protect our natural resources. 

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